“Never Mind the Remorse, Don’t Commit the Sin”
Below is the text of the cover letter that was mailed last month to all 37 members of the Educational Alliance’s Board of Trustees. Included with the letter was the petition (already signed at that point by over 200 people) as well as a copy of the comments that many petition signers had included when adding their name. We have not yet heard back from the Board of Trustees. Many more people continue to sign the petition and add their own comments. We plan to bring the Board another copy of the petition and comments (perhaps this time in person) soon. Please click on the “Sign the Petition!” tab above to add your name. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more about what you can do to help save the Art School.
September 21, 2011
Dear Mr./Ms. _______:
Enclosed you will find a petition signed by hundreds of individuals deeply concerned about the renovation plans for the Educational Alliance and how those plans will detrimentally and permanently affect the Art School as well as the reputation of the Educational Alliance itself.
These petition signatures (and accompanying, often eloquent, comments) were gathered by the Organizing Committee to Save the Art School (“oc2sas”), a group started by current Art School students who were dismayed to learn that the renovation plans for 197 East Broadway included the elimination of the welding studio and black and white photography darkroom as well as a move of the remaining studio classes from the current spacious and light-filled fifth floor space to a smaller space on the ground floor of the building which also has much lower ceilings, much smaller windows, and little natural light.
We hope that as Board Members of the Educational Alliance you have been told of the long and rich history of the Art School, one which is famous for its many distinguished teachers as well as for its reputation of nurturing many young men and women who would become leading artists of the twentieth century. Less well known perhaps, but no less important, is the Educational Alliance’s incalcuable contribution in providing instruction, inspriration, and a beautiful and soothing place, where young (and old) people from all walks of life who would never become famous artists could pursue their creative muse and feed their souls in a wide range of affordable, quality art classes.
The new space planned for the Art School will have art rooms (not art studios, like there are now, and yes — there is a difference). Gone will be one of the very few opportunities in the City to pursue the art of black and white photography. Gone will be one of the even fewer opportunities in the City to pursue the art of welding. Gone will be what is hard to put in words, a special place, steeped in history but grounded in an insistence that old-fashioned art made in old-fashioned studios just for the sake of creating art, is important for the present and the future.
And gone for what? We’re not sure. We’ve heard rumors that the seniors’ programs will be housed on the fifth floor but no good reasons on why they must be there instead of on the first floor of the building. We’ve heard rumors about a large euhpemistically named “multi-purpose room” but from what we can tell the main purpose of that room is to serve as something of a banquet hall with a beauttiful view for VIP functions and rental opportunities. Really? That seems so contrary to EA’s mission and history, to essentially cut the soul out of a hundred plus year old Art School in order to host fancy parties.
We’re writing this all because we firmly believe it’s not too late to change the course EA is headed on, one which we believe will lead ultimately to regret, not only in terms of the loss of the Art School but in terms of the loss or respect that we fear EA will suffer institutionally when it becomes known how skewed its priorities became during renovations. There is a Yiddish saying that seems appropriate here, “Men iz dir moichel di t’shuveh, nor tu nit di avaireh” (Never mind the remorse, don’t commit the sin”).
We hope to have an opportunity to meet with you in person and work together to find a new course for the renovations, one which accomplishes the many wonderful things we know the Board plans for EA’s next century, but one which does so without sacrificing the essence of the Art School.
Thank you very much for your important work for, generosity toward, and dedication to the Educational Alliance. We look forward to speaking with you soon.
Organizing Committee to Save the Art School